Spanish is the 3rd most used language of the Internet, being an official language in 22 countries, with speakers located in Europe, both Americas and the Asia-Pacific region. It is estimated that more than 420 million people speak Spanish as their native language! Now, as you may know, people always prefer to make a purchase in their mother tongue. Just try to calculate how many potential customers you may reach if you target the Spanish-speaking population with a localized version of your service or product! This situation seems like a huge opportunity for your business.
It all seems relatively easy until it comes to execution. Translating your English content into any language is challenging, but translating English into Spanish has its own unique challenges. In fact, we think you should dedicate a great deal of your time and attention to localizing your content to this particular audience – we are pretty sure it’s easy to make some cultural mistakes! Just to be clear – we are always supportive of the idea of maximizing the effectiveness and minimizing costs without reducing the quality; but is it possible when translating your content from English to Spanish? Keep on reading to find out!
#1. Differentiate Multiple Versions of Spanish
English to Spanish translation is particularly demanding because of Spanish’s close ties to Roman languages based on Latin, like Italian and Portuguese, which differ significantly from the Germanic roots of English.
However, the English and Spanish languages share one little thing: just like there are variations in the English language between how it is used in the UK, USA, and other places, there are also major differences between European Spanish and the version of Spanish primarily used in the Americas.
While these differences are most apparent in pronunciation, there are significant differences in grammar, formalities, and also names of food, clothing, and everyday objects. Examples? The word potato in Spain translates to una patata, while in Mexico you are supposed to call it una papa. It’s the same with peach that you’ll call un melocotón in Spanish, but it will translate to un durazno in Mexican Spanish. A Spanish un ordenador translates to a computer in English, but in Mexico, you’ll ask your host for a una computadora.
This leads us to…
#2. Analyze Your Target Audience
Do your research and identify the specific Spanish spoken in the region where you want to distribute your translated content. Of course, a Mexican will understand that you meant a computer when you write un ordenador on your website instead of una computadora and you may think that we are exaggerating with this whole region-related Spanish thing. However, if you don’t pay enough attention to the language and your target market, why even bother?
By ignoring the region-specificity of Spanish, you may confuse your audience or they might even become frustrated by the fact that you show that you don’t know them and their language well. Or even worse, that you don’t care. This dramatically decreases your chances of succeeding within your new target market.
That’s why it’s important to look for a translator and/or copywriter specialized not only in a specific field but also to translating specific terms of your branded content to this particular kind of Spanish. It is as simple as looking for a translation experience in the specific regions your material is targeting.
#3. Use Passive Voice in English but Active Voice in Spanish
Think about it in this way: English is a diplomatic and official language, while the Spanish language is interpersonal and spontaneous. It’s really not about the stereotypes, but about the style. English allows a number of passive constructions that are not possible in many other languages with a similar passive formation.
Native Spanish speakers, on the other hand, are used to impersonal sentences or active voice with or without a subject. Therefore, to make your translation more natural, it’s best to convert the passive English into active Spanish in the process of translation.
This is very important for the aspect of localization: you will sound more natural, showing your customers that you made an effort to get to know them, with branded content that has a native touch in their language.
#4. Use the Right Translation Tool
Translating manually and organizing the whole process of English to Spanish translation can easily discourage you from the beginning. The amount of work that must be dedicated to any translation project can be overwhelming and taking into consideration the factors mentioned above, you can only imagine the worst-case scenario. Finding an advanced translation solution that provides a complete Translation Management System for both internal and outsourced projects will save you time, stress and money.
When it comes to your approach to your English to Spanish translation project, an advanced platform will leave with a great deal of independence and room for customization. You can either organize the whole translation process using the system or outsource it to your TMS. At Text United we provide professional translation services from verified Spanish translators with various fields of expertise and experience in the specific regions your material is targeting.
#5. Don’t Be Afraid of Machine Translation
While machine translation is not always accurate with its wide use and availability, it is being continuously improved by the community of translators and native speakers working alongside it. It’s getting better and better every day, and one of the most translated language combinations is… you guessed it: English to Spanish! Therefore, machine translation of this language combination is pretty accurate these days compared to how it was just a few years ago.
Wait a minute, you might say, thinking about the previous points mentioned above – I’m supposed to make all of this effort to recognize the right localization approach for my new target audience and you are telling me to use machine translation? Well, not entirely. The point is that with machine translation integrated into the TMS, users like you can utilize the tool to achieve cheaper and more efficient translation projects.
This approach is called ‘Machine Translation and Human Review‘ and we call it ‘the new black of the translation world’ at Text United. What is it? In short, it’s machine translation combined with human editing. The translation engine machine-translates your content, but then it’s reviewed and edited by a professional translator. Thanks to this, you have the translation in context performed quickly and cheaply. Such projects usually result in a 40% overall cost reduction compared to regular translation projects!